Country Corner

The speckled wood butterfly
The speckled wood butterfly

Firstly, let me state there is no truth in the rumour that I am in denial of the arrival of autumn and the forthcoming winter.

It’s just that 2013 gave us such a fantastic butterfly summer I am reluctant to let it go! Last time I showed you a picture of a speckled wood butterfly, it was a tattered and faded individual I realised was not a windblown autumn leaf in a grey gale. Quickly I rescued the wee mite to the safety of my van to be released in a sheltered woodland.

That was my very first Scottish sighting of this species and I hoped at the time it was a sign that a small colony had established on the estate where I caught it.

There is a technique to finding suspected colonies of rare butterflies hereabouts, you simply mention your suspicions to Abbie Marland!

Sure enough Abbie eventually found a small but established colony in a local wood. It is there I took this picture recently, the colony now having grown and spread to other parts of the woodland.

In fact it is my belief that this pioneering and secretive butterfly may have established other undetected colonies in Lothian woods.

One reason speckled woods go unrecorded is their habit of flying at treetop height. They are great lovers of honeydew, that sweet byproduct of aphids.

My suspicion is that this bonny wee butterfly, quietly spreading northwards from England, will be discovered in more and more woods in the next few years.

So study this picture, commit that dappled woodland sun pattern to your memory, and keep your eyes peeled next summer.